Helen Cox’s season has been pretty close to perfect so far, but they came into Wednesday with one blemish on their record that they felt needed fixing.
The Cougars clinched the District 8-5A title with their win over Grace King last week and might be the No. 2 seed heading into the 5A playoffs, but their Jan. 23 loss to Bonnabel was the only time Helen Cox lost to a 5A team this season.
The Cougars (27-4, 11-1) made up for that by rolling over the Bruins (21-5, 8-4) with a 71-48 win on Senior Night at Bonnabel on Wednesday night.
“We played really well to say we lost to them last time,” Cougars senior guard Marlain Veal said. “To go from losing to them, to winning by almost 30, that’s a good improvement by us.”
With the district title already in hand, Helen Cox coach Tyron Mouzon said he wanted his team to play Wednesday’s game mentally and emotionally as if it were the first round of the playoffs.
“We wanted to try and treat this like a playoff atmosphere,” Mouzon said. “This was our last dress rehearsal before the playoffs start, and they have a lot of pressure, so I wanted them to come out and play loose. But, we wanted to work on some things that we hopefully can use (for the playoffs).”
The Cougars took control in the third quarter with their pressure defense, which allowed Cox to get out in transition and throw down some of its signature high-flying dunks. Roydell Brown, in particular, put on a show during the period, throwing down three rim-rattling dunks.
Brown began his aerial assault with an alley-oop from Veal to open the second half and two others that came after open-court steals, the second of which ballooned the Helen Cox lead to 51-26 midway through the third period.
Brown finished with 18 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field and added 11 rebounds and two steals. Cox’s Jeremy Treaudo and Kajon Brown each added 13 points.
“I’ve been working all offseason on my hops and getting better,” Brown said. “I’m a high flier. I tell them to throw it anywhere around the rim, and I’m going to catch it.”
Bonnabel went without center Joe Thompson in the first quarter, opting to play the five seniors honored before the game. Despite playing without their 6-foot-7 big man, the Bruins kept the game close and only trailed 13-9 at the end of the period.
Bonnabel went back to their normal rotation to begin the second, but they struggled to deal with Helen Cox’s pressure and fell behind once the Cougars started forcing turnovers. Cox opened the second with an 8-2 run that extended their lead to 21-11 and it maintained a double-digit lead for nearly the rest of the period.
Helen Cox led 31-19 at halftime.
“One of the things we do well, is when we play defense for 84 feet, it seems to kind of get us going in transition,” Mouzon said. “They get a lot of energy from getting steal, run-outs and dunks. I asked them to step up and put a really good game together, and they were the only 5A team to beat us this year, so I wanted them to get a little motivation from that, as well.”
Shemar Bates led Bonnabel with 10 points and three steals, while Thompson managed four points on 1-of-8 shooting.